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Student Spotlight

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  • Kate (left) and Meghan (right) McCurdy in Verona, Italy

    Kate & Meghan McCurdy | Born to Teach

    Kate and Meghan McCurdy are both Middle Grades Education majors with concentrations in mathematics from Orland Park, IL.

  • Adhwita Gopi Selvan

    Adhwita Gopi Selvan | Building the Next Generation of Critical Thinkers

    Adhwita Gopi Selvan took a leap. She decided to leave her home on the East Coast and come to Illinois to be part of the very first cohort of Computer Science + Education students at the University of Illinois. Adhwita has long been interested in Educational Technology, even starting her own non-profit to help students become interested and successful in STEM. We talked to her about her first year in the program, what she liked about her first year at Illinois, and her goals for the rest of her academic career in CS + Ed.

  • Morgan Murphy | A Childhood Dream Come True

    Freshman Morgan Murphy has dreamed of being a teacher since childhood.

    "I love teaching children something new and exciting. Seeing their faces light up with knowledge gives me a sense of pride and happiness."

    Read more on Morgan's goals and aspirations at Illinois and beyond!

  • Rayna Zirkelbach | The Road Worth Taking

    Transferring to a new school can be challenging, but for Rayna, the warm environment of the University of Illinois made the transition an easy one. Once Rayna was welcomed with open arms to campus, she soon found her place in the College of Education, but not how you might think. When asked about her decision to become an educator, she replied, "I didn’t know for a long time. On a whim I got a job at a daycare, and this is where I fell in love with education. I knew I wanted to do this as my career." Rayna's story is a great example that you don't have to have it all figured out right away. Sometimes the longer road is the one worth taking! 

  • Melia Watson | Making the Classroom a Home

    Junior Melia Watson explored many education paths before finding her calling in Special Education. The comfort and acceptance extended to Melia on her journey by the College of Education is something she will take with her to a future classroom of her own. For students who come from backgrounds with less opportunity, the classroom doubles as a place to call home. 

  • Kenna Ashton

    Kenna Ashton | Inspired to Have a Positive Impact on Students

    "I love how close the College of Education is and how much support is provided for students."

  • Jaclyn Wittrock

    Jaclyn Wittrock | Helping All Young Minds Grow

    "I love learning how young minds develop and better ways to teach every kind of learner!"

  • Kay Tetlak

    Kay Tetlak | Connecting Students to Their Community

    As a Chicago Public Schools alum, Kay Tetlak wants to give back to the school district that provided so many resources to her.

  • Anisa Chatman

    Anisa Chatman | Creating Positive Change

    Anisa Chatman is a sophomore Learning and Education Studies major.

  • Jacalyn Wingerter | Inspired by Educators

    Everyone has a special educator that has inspired them in some way. Senior Jacalyn Wingerter draws inspiration from her English professor, Professor Pollock. She says, "He's the most enthusiastic English professor and really knows how to make any type of literature come to life!" Jacalyn hopes to bring the same enthusiasm to an English classroom of her own after graduating. This week, tell an educator in your life how they inspire you!

     

  • Lesly Ortega

    Lesly Ortega | "Teaching is the only path for me"

    Junior Lesly Ortega feels that the path to teaching is the only one for her, and has felt this way since childhood. As an English major and Secondary Education minor, Lesly has enjoyed her courses in and out of the College of Education, and looks forward to returning to her high school as an English teacher as soon as possible. When she's not in class or studying, Lesly enjoys checking out the local restaurants and greeting her peer's pets on the quad.

  • Yudany Diaz

    Yudany Diaz | Everyone is Worthy of a Good Education

    Yudany is a freshman in the College's Secondary Education minor program. Her major is History, and she's also double-minoring in Spanish. But Yudany's end goal is a becoming a school administrator, where she can affect change and progress on educational systems and help all students feel safe and be supported. 

  • Ivy Moore

    Ivy Moore | Engaged In Her Community

    "What I love about campus is that there is always something new to try."

  • Jill Kartsounes

    Jill Kartsounes | Being a Leader

    For Jill Kartsounes, being the leader came naturally. As a child, she always wanted to be the one in charge. The feeling of leading made her dream of her future classroom and career as a teacher. Now she's here at the College of Education, working to become an elementary teacher. 

  • Aranza Rico | Kindness Counts

    Junior Aranza Rico is feeling the love from the College of Education family. These days are hard for us all, and kindness can go a long way. Aranza says the staff is "Very helpful and friendly. They care about students' mental health, especially during these times." The university has a number of mental health opportunities and resources available to those in need. 

     

  • Kerrigan Lane

    Kerrigan Lane | Having Fun is Crucial to Learning

    Kerrigan is a freshman in the College's Early Childhood Education program. She's loved her own "classroom life" experience and the fun of learning in community. Kerrigan can't wait to creating a welcoming, inclusive, positive classroom environment for all her future students to grow.

  • Abby smiles softly

    Abby Dizon | Determined to Inspire

    Senior Abby Dizon misses the warm, positive energy of the College of Education building most of all in these strange times. The positivity from her peers and instructors of present, all the way back to Kindergarten, have influenced her personally and professionally. When asked about her aspirations to teach in Chicago Public Schools as a Golden Apple Scholar, she replied, "I am determined to inspire students and provide them with a reason to be their best self every single day."

  • Sophomore Lily Greenberg

    Lily Greenberg | Advocating for Marginalized Students

    Meet Lily Greenberg, an Elementary Education major who feels strongly that kids of all different backgrounds deserve a teacher who they feel represents them.

  • Haley Allen | Learning Along The Way

    Despite all of her research, trainig and studies, senior Haley Allen still felt uneasy about taking over a classroom of her own. That is, until her mentors in the College of Education taught her a very valuable lesson; you will always be learning along the way. Haley says, "Because of my instructors, I now feel prepared for the many unknowns that come with teaching young children."

  • Gwen smiles from her dorm

    Gwen Cox | Fueling the Next Generation

    It's easier than ever for our vision to be fogged when thinking about future plans in a time of such unpredictability. Freshman Gwen Cox understands that the importance of education is one constant she can count on. "The next generation of students have a big impact on our future, and to have to opportunity to fuel them to have big goals and inspire them to keep learning would be an amazing experience," she says.

  • Cal Callahan

    Lauren "Cal" Callahan | "We Teach Them and They Teach Us."

    "We Teach Them and They Teach Us."

  • Xosa Cox

    Xosa Cox | "It has always been a dream of mine to support others and understand cultures on a global scale."

    Xosa Cox, a Learning and Education Studies Major from Chicago Heights, IL is our Student Spotlight this week.

  • Katie Barr | IEA Student of the Year

    The Illinois Education Association has named the University of Illinois’ Katie Barr as Student of the Year. Barr is currently a junior in the College of Education, majoring in Middle Grades Education with concentrations in Literacy, ESL, and Spanish, while also pursuing a minor in Spanish.

  • Audrey Wong

    Audrey Wong | "I want to be one of those teachers."

    Audrey Wong is passionate about two things: biology and teaching. She decided to be a teacher after being inspired by her own high school teachers. Now at Illinois, Audrey is involved in research and has her sights set on bringing her love for biology to a new generation of students.

  • Ellen Reckamp | A Semester Abroad

    Ellen Reckamp just started her junior year as an English major, Secondary Education minor. She always knew she wanted a career that worked hands-on with other people, and with education she could really help students grow and feel empowered.

  • Mike Rotter | Illini 4000

    Special Education Junior Mike Rotter spent his summer riding a bike across the country from New York City to San Francisco with the Illini 4000 team. Every summer the group sets out on their cross-country adventure to raise money for cancer research and support services.

  • ECE student Ana Garcia

    Ana Garcia | Teaching to Fulfill Part of Her Purpose

    Ana Garcia is a Chicago native who knows that teaching young children and serving in a low-income community is part of her life's purpose.

  • Xue Yan Chen | Research Grant for Capstone Project

    Learning and Education Studies Senior, Xue Yan Chen received a $1,050 Undergraduate Research Support grant for her capstone project. She is working to develop an interactive prototype application grounded in the keyword method and usability testing to access effectiveness on Spanish vocabulary recall and comprehension.

  • Cyrus Murray

    Cyrus Murray | Changing Lanes

    Cyrus Murray is a junior English major, minoring in Secondary Education minor. 

  • Madison on the beach

    Madison Barrera | "Always Demonstrate Care"

    Ever since she saw the increasing need for special education teachers firsthand in her Chicago high school, sophomore Madison Barrera has been a strong advocate for inclusivity in the education system. Through her studies as a Special Education major and Speech Language Pathology minor, Madison is practicing the belief that educators have the power to make lasting positive impacts on every student. She says, "Our job is to keep all of our students in our minds with every decision and always demonstrate care for our students’ success."

  • Ian Copple

    Ian Copple | Loving the 'ah-ha!' Moments

    When Ian Copple came to the University of Illinois, he knew he loved math. It took until his junior year to realize he also loved sharing his understanding with others. That's when he transferred into the Secondary Education minor program.

  • Sara poses next to a mural that reads "Great Minds Think Illinois"

    Sara Striepling | Community, Opportunity, and Balance

    Whether it's growing alongside her peers in her cohort, ushering a show at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, patronizing local businesses, or exploring her passion of special education, Sophomore Sara Striepling values the community she has found in Champaign-Urbana. Most of all, she appreciates the balanced life as a College of Education student, remarking "It's great to have the opportunities and experiences that come with going to a large university while still having small and personal classes." 

  • Raina Kutliroff | Finding Your Path

    When Raina started at Illinois, she thought her fun and creative spirit meant the arts was where she belonged. But she found herself missing something in her major, eventually realizing she could use her artistic skills as a full time educator, making the College of Education her new home. Raina’s story reminds us all that as we start a new school year, it's okay to not have it all figured out. Trust yourself on your journey, and everything will work out for the best! 

  • Sharon smiles in her yard

    Sharon Stagaman | Finding Her Niche

    Graduation is just around the corner for Elementary English and Spanish major Sharon Stagaman. Since watching her father become an educator in her childhood, Sharon knew she wanted to follow in his footsteps one day. But carving your own path is no small task, and Sharon credits finding her niche in the education field to the diverse learning experiences at the College of Education. "I feel really prepared to graduate with experiences at different types of schools across grade levels, and I feel so lucky that these experiences started junior year to help me solidify that teaching is what I want to do."

  • Jasmine Wong | The News-Gazette Teacher of the Week

    Elementary Education alumna Jasmine Wong was named The News-Gazette's Teacher of the Week. Jasmine is a third-grade gifted-classroom teacher at Champaign's Booker T. Washington Elementary. 

  • Audrey Kermgard

    Audrey Kermgard | Educators Shape Worldviews and Values

    Audrey Kermgard is our featured undergraduate student in this week's student spotlight.

  • Abby Lynch

    Abby Lynch | "Equitable Opportunities Begin in Schools"

    "I want to be involved in shaping the youth, and I believe education is more than just standards and schooling."

  • Amanda Navarro | Education is Powerful

    Middle Grades Education junior, Amanda Navarro knows that education has the power to change the world— and that's why she's here.

    "Since I was younger, it was the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to give back, whether it was through my community or surrounding ones, but I knew I wanted to do it through education."

  • Jerny Walls

    Jerny Walls | Interested in How Disparities Impact the Lives of Students and Teachers

    "I love how supportive my classmates are, they really have helped me stay motivated during my college career."

  • Erin Dickett

    Erin Dickett | Valuing Students' Unfiltered Cultural Perspectives

    Middle school can be tough, but Erin Dickett says the College's new IGlobal Program helps students connect with each other around the globe. Which is inspiring for everyone.

  • Mike Rotter | Illini 4000 Ride in Honor of Dr. David Zola

    Special Education Sophomore Mike Rotter is gearing up for his second summer with the Illini 4000 group. This year, his 4000 mile ride is dedicated to his first and favorite college professor: Dr. David Zola. 

  • Emily Crosswell

    Emily Crosswell | A Future Serving Students and Her Country

    Emily Crosswell is involved all over campus and Central Illinois. The sophomore from Watseka teaches with IGlobal, has studied abroad, and spends some time with the Illinois Army National Guard. She's taking her life experience and passion for people into her future classroom. Read more about Emily in this week's Student Spotlight.

  • Allie Gilbert

    Allie Gilbert | Realizing Her Passion for Equitable Education

    Senior Allie Gilbert has truly made the most of her student experience while at Illinois. From her involvement in Epsilon Delta and Student Alumni Ambassadors to doing a pandemic-shortened study abroad semester in Spain, she's explored many opportunities to learn where her true passions lie. Now, she waits to hear back about her Fulbright Scholarship application—staying true to continuing to learn about herself, the world, and how to provide equitable education to her future students.

  • Nancy Lazaro | President of Golden Apple Illini

    In middle school, Nancy had no idea what college was. But after one of her teachers inspired her to be an educator, she learned about Big Ten schools and Illinois.

    Today, Nancy is a Senior Golden Apple Scholar and president of Golden Apple Illini. She has also worked as a tutor with America Reads/America Counts.

  • Claudia stands in front of a row of brightly lit lamp posts, smiling.

    Claudia Kobylarczyk | Paying it Forward

    Senior Claudia Koblarczyk fell in love with education through her experience as a tutor. Her adoration of literature, passion as a mentor, and guidance from educators and peers has set her on the path to success. Now, she's paying it forward with plans to return to her alma mater, Reavis High School, as an English Teacher.

  • Xochtil's professional headshot

    Xochitl Mondragon | Reflection and Gratitude

    As the school year comes to a close, we reflect on our growth and look to the future. Elementary Education senior Xochitl Mondragon is taking this time of reflection to show her gratitude to the educators that got her where she is today. From formative years spent with outstanding grade school teachers, to the inspirational difference teachers made on her young niece, to the guidance and "pure heart" of professors in the College of Education, this Teacher Appreciation Week (and every week) we celebrate teachers. Now, as Xochtil says her goodbyes to Illinois, she prepares to join the ranks of impactful educators everywhere.

  • Emily poses for a selfie

    Emily Manzo | "Thrive in Your Chosen Path"

    Halfway through her junior year, Emily Manzo has already taught and studied abroad in Costa Rica, conducted research under three professors, and led discussions in EDUC 101, all while working toward her degree in Learning and Education Studies-Educational Equality Cultural Understanding, and minoring in Spanish and Latinx Studies. Having savored all of these experiences and more, Emily misses her time with friends at La Casa Cultural the most from her pre-pandemic days on campus.

  • Devon Jackson | A Future In ESL

    After graduating in 2021 from Middle Grades Education with a minor in Literacy and ESL, Devon aspires to pursue a career as an on-set teacher in the entertainment industry.

  • Dante Studamire

    Danté Studamire | Here to Support First-year Students

    Danté Studamire knows the value of sounding boards in life. In his relatively short time here at Illinois, he can already point to a handful of mentors and faculty who are helping shape his goals, vision, and future academic pursuits. (Not to mention his Ph.D. dissertation!) This year, the Office of Minority Student Affairs has appointed Danté to serve as a mentor to College of Education first-year students who are finding their way. He's part of the College's academic advising team, and is excited to meet Education students and learn about their ideas and passions.

  • Candace Hsu | Born To Teach

    Candace knew her purpose in life was to be a teacher from the age of seven. As a senior majoring in elementary education and minoring in speech and hearing science, she loves connecting what she learns from one field of study to another. She hopes to create a future classroom in which her students can walk in with a smile and leave feeling encouraged and empowered.